The Government has announced that fees will be introduced for lodging tribunal claims, and for taking a case to a hearing. Workers will face a fee of between £150 and £250 for lodging any claim against their employer, and a further £1,000 for proceeding to a hearing.
The introduction of fees is aimed at reducing vexatious claims. The exact amounts of the up-front fees and the arrangements for their payment are the subject of a consultation which will start at the end of November; fees will then start to be charged from April 2013. There may be higher fees for cases where the compensation claimed tops £30,000. Any individual who wins their case will see the fees refunded.
The scheme is expected to have arrangements for less well-off people to have the fee waived or reduced, but the reality is that it is likely to deter some such people from pursuing meritorious claims.
The median award for unfair dismissal claims in 2009/2010 was just under £5,000, so a fees of £1,250 could well act as a deterrent when the uncertainty of any tribunal claim is considered.